Skip to main content

Localism Act 2011

Volume 542: debated on Monday 12 March 2012

I beg to move,

That—

(1) The following new Standing Order be made—

‘Localism Act 2011, etc.: scrutiny of certain orders and draft orders

(1) The Regulatory Reform Committee shall examine and report on—

(i) every draft order laid before the House under or by virtue of section 7 of the Localism Act 2011 or section 5E of the Fire and Rescue Services Act 2004;

(ii) every draft order laid before the House under section 19 of the Localism Act 2011.

(2) In the case of every draft order referred to in paragraph (1)(i) the committee shall consider the Minister’s recommendation under section 15(1) of the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Act 2006 (‘the 2006 Act’) as to the procedure which should apply to it and shall report to the House any recommendation under that Act that a different procedure should apply.

(3) In its consideration of a draft order referred to in paragraph (1)(i) the committee shall include, in addition to such other matters as it deems appropriate, whether provision in the draft order—

(a) appears to make an inappropriate use of delegated legislation;

(b) has an effect which is proportionate to the policy objective intended to be secured;

(c) strikes a fair balance between the public interest and the interests of any person adversely affected by it;

(d) does not remove any necessary protection;

(e) does not prevent any person from continuing to exercise any right or freedom which that person might reasonably expect to continue to exercise;

(f) is not of constitutional significance;

(g) has been the subject of, and takes appropriate account of, adequate consultation;

(h) gives rise to an issue under such criteria for consideration of statutory instruments laid down in paragraph (1) of Standing Order No. 151 (Statutory Instruments (Joint Committee)) as are relevant.

(4) In its consideration of a draft order referred to in paragraph (1)(ii) the committee shall include, in addition to such other matters as it deems appropriate, whether provision in the draft order—

(a) appears to make an inappropriate use of delegated legislation;

(b) gives rise to an issue under such criteria for consideration of statutory instruments laid down in paragraph (1) of Standing Order No. 151 (Statutory Instruments (Joint Committee)) as are relevant.

(5) In relation to every draft order laid under section 7(2) of the Localism Act 2011 or section 5E(2) of the Fire and Rescue Services Act 2004 subject to the negative or affirmative procedure under section 16 or 17 of the 2006 Act, the committee shall report its recommendation whether the draft order should be made (in the case of the negative procedure) or approved (in the case of the affirmative procedure), indicating in the case of the latter whether the recommendation was agreed without a division. (6) In relation to every draft order laid under section 7(2) of the Localism Act 2011 or section 5E(2) of the Fire and Rescue Services Act 2004 subject to the super-affirmative procedure under section 18 of the 2006 Act, the committee shall report its recommendation as to whether—

(a) the draft order should be proceeded with unamended under section 18(3) of the 2006 Act; or

(b) a revised draft order should be laid under section 18(7) of the 2006 Act; or

(c) no statement under section 18(3) of the 2006 Act or revised draft order under section 18(7) of the 2006 Act should be laid.

(7) In relation to every draft order or revised draft order referred to in paragraph (1)(i) of this order that is subject to the super-affirmative procedure and is being proceeded with under section 18(3) or 18(7) of the 2006 Act, the committee shall report its recommendation whether the draft order or revised draft order should be approved, indicating in the case of draft orders which it recommends should be approved whether its recommendation was agreed without a division; and in respect of such draft orders or revised draft orders the committee shall consider in each case all such matters set out in paragraph (3) of this order as are relevant and the extent to which the Minister concerned has had regard to any resolution or report of the committee or to any other representations made during the period for parliamentary consideration.

(8) It shall be an instruction to the committee considering draft orders referred to in paragraph (1)(i) of this order and being proceeded with under section 18(3) or 18(7) of the 2006 Act that it report not more than fifteen sitting days (in the case of an order under section 18(3) of the 2006 Act) or twenty-five sitting days (in the case of an order under section 18(7) of the 2006 Act) after the relevant statement is laid.

(9) In relation to every draft order or revised draft order referred to in paragraph 1(i) of this order, the committee shall report any recommendation under section 16(4) of the 2006 Act that the draft order be not made, or under section 17(3), 18(5) or 18(9) of the 2006 Act that no further proceedings be taken in relation to the draft order.

(10) In relation to every draft order laid under section 19 of the Localism Act 2011, the committee shall report its recommendation as to whether—

(a) the draft order should be proceeded with unamended under section 19(3) of that Act; or

(b) a revised draft order should be laid under section 19(7) of that Act; or

(c) no statement under section 19(3) of that Act or revised draft order under section 19(7) of that Act should be laid.

(11) In relation to every draft order or revised draft order being proceeded with under section 19(3) or 19(7) of the Localism Act 2011, the committee shall report its recommendation whether the draft order or revised draft order should be approved, indicating in the case of draft orders which it recommends should be approved whether its recommendation was agreed without a division; and in respect of such draft orders or revised draft orders the committee shall consider in each case all such matters set out in paragraph (4) of this order as are relevant and the extent to which the Minister concerned has had regard to any resolution or report of the committee or to any other representations made during the period for parliamentary consideration.

(12) It shall be an instruction to the committee considering draft orders being proceeded with under section 19(3) or 19(7) of the Localism Act 2011 that it report not more than fifteen sitting days (in the case of an order under section 19(3) of that Act) or twenty-five sitting days (in the case of an order under section 19(7) of that Act) after the relevant statement is laid.

(13) In relation to every draft order or revised draft order referred to in paragraph 1(ii) of this order, the committee shall report any recommendation under section 19(5) or 19(9) of the Localism Act 2011 that no further proceedings be taken in relation to the draft order.’.

(2) Standing Order No. 141 (Regulatory Reform Committee) be amended as follows—

(a) in line 5, at end, insert ‘, other than one laid under section 18 of the Act as applied by section 7 of the Localism Act 2011 or by section 5E of the Fire and Rescue Services Act 2004’;

(b) line 12, at end, insert ‘; and to carry out its functions under Standing Order (Localism Act 2011, etc.: scrutiny of certain orders and draft orders)’;

(c) in line 78, at end, insert ‘referred to in paragraph (1)(i) of this order that is’;

(d) in line 79, after ‘procedure’, insert ‘and is’;

(e) in line 92, after ‘orders’, insert ‘referred to in paragraph (1)(i) of this order and’;

(f) in line 97, after second ‘order’ insert ‘referred to in paragraph (1)(i) of this order’;

(g) in line 134, at end, insert ‘or within paragraph (1) of Standing Order (Localism Act 2011, etc.: scrutiny of certain orders and draft orders)’; and

(h) in line 148, at end, add ‘or under section 19 of the Localism Act 2011’.

(3) Standing Order No. 18 be amended as follows—

(a) leave out from ‘under’ in line 2 to ‘should’ in line 6 and insert ‘paragraph

(4) of Standing Order No. 141 (Regulatory Reform Committee) or paragraph (5) of Standing Order (Localism Act 2011, etc.: scrutiny of certain orders and draft orders) that a draft order subject to the affirmative procedure should be approved, or has recommended under paragraph (6) of Standing Order No. 141 or paragraph (7) of Standing Order (Localism Act 2011, etc.: scrutiny of certain orders and draft orders) that a draft order’;

(b) leave out from ‘under’ in line 14 to ‘be’ in line 16 and insert ‘paragraph

(4) of Standing Order No. 141 or paragraph (5) of Standing Order (Localism Act 2011, etc.: scrutiny of certain orders and draft orders) that a draft order subject to the affirmative procedure be not approved, or has recommended under paragraph (6) of Standing Order No. 141 or paragraph (7) of Standing Order (Localism Act 2011, etc.: scrutiny of certain orders and draft orders) that a draft order’;

(c) in line 25, after ‘141’, insert ‘or paragraph (5) of Standing Order (Localism Act 2011, etc.: scrutiny of certain orders and draft orders)’;

(d) in line 28, leave out ‘Act’, and insert ‘Legislative and Regulatory Reform Act 2006’; and

(e) in the title, at end, insert ‘etc.’.

(4) Standing Order No. 151 (Statutory Instruments (Joint Committee)) be amended, in line 21, after ‘2006’, by inserting the words ‘any draft order laid before the House under or by virtue of section 7 or 19 of the Localism Act 2011 or section 5E of the Fire and Rescue Services Act 2004’.

The motion may be rather long and complex—at one point in its gestation it was even longer and more complex—but it should not be controversial. Essentially, it provides for certain draft orders which are akin to draft orders under part 1 of the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Act 2006 to be subject to Commons scrutiny in the same way as the draft orders under the 2006 Act. This will involve detailed consideration by the Regulatory Reform Committee followed by proceedings on the Floor of the House, with the nature of those proceedings reflecting the views of the Committee. The proposals follow consultation with the Liaison Committee, the Procedure Committee and the official Opposition. No objections have been voiced to the proposed method of proceeding. I have also spoken to the Chair of the Regulatory Reform Committee, the hon. Member for Poole (Mr Syms), who has confirmed that he is content with the proposed approach.

What we now have is rather longer and more comprehensive but I think it does the job and I thank the hon. Gentleman for what he has done.

I am most grateful for that endorsement.

I shall confine my remarks to two matters—the drafting of the Standing Orders and an account of how the procedures will work. As I have already admitted, the proposals before us are complex, but the complexity flows from the complexity of the current provisions in Standing Order No. 141. An earlier version of the motion on which I consulted was even more complex and I was asked to describe this version of the motion as the “simplified” one. Although I am confident that this motion will work, and its provisions are explained in further detail in an explanatory memorandum, I am not convinced that it is as simple as the House would wish. The Procedure Committee has indicated a willingness to consider the overall approach enshrined in Standing Order No. 141 and in the new Standing Order, and I know the Regulatory Reform Committee will also have an interest in the matter. If those Committees were to propose a simpler approach that delivered the same outcome, I believe it would be welcomed by the House.

The nature of the order-making powers covered by the motion is described in the explanatory memorandum, so I shall not describe them now. Because the powers are broad and can involve change to primary legislation, the Localism Act 2011 provides for enhanced scrutiny arrangements, including a so-called super-affirmative procedure, by direct application of or by analogy with the scrutiny arrangements under the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Act 2006. Commons Standing Orders currently assign the additional scrutiny powers under the 2006 Act to the Regulatory Reform Committee and we propose that the Committee should have the same role in respect of the new orders.

The Committee’s powers are extensive. It considers the merits of each order and the appropriateness of the proposed method of proceeding. It can conclude that a particular measure should not be proceeded with or should be subject to different proceedings. Its conclusions help to determine the procedures that are then followed on the Floor of the House. The motion enables the House to consider the new orders in the same way as orders under the 2006 Act. The proposals are complex and we have an open mind on their being simplified in due course. For the immediate future, to enable proper scrutiny to take place, I commend the motion to the House.

The motion establishes the arrangements necessary for enacting the necessary scrutiny by this House of certain orders and draft orders. It is my understanding that the Liaison Committee attempted to find a simpler method for such scrutiny but could not arrive at a satisfactory way forward. It is therefore necessary to adopt the procedure used by the Regulatory Reform Committee for the scrutiny of these orders. The procedure is complicated, as Members will realise, but Members also recognise that effective scrutiny is important. On that note, will the Deputy Leader of the House confirm that the Government will be willing to review the arrangements if weaknesses in these arrangements become apparent?

We do not object to the adoption of Regulatory Reform Committee arrangements for the scrutiny of orders and draft orders arising from the provisions of the Localism Act 2011. That is not to say that we have changed our view of the Localism Act. We voted against it on Third Reading and think it wrong that the Secretary of State should have gathered so many extra powers to himself via its provisions—142 in fact. However, the Act is now passed into law and, on the scrutiny of some of the actions arising from its provisions, we have no objection to the adoption of arrangements that mirror exactly the procedures followed by the Regulatory Reform Committee.

With the leave of the House, I will say a few more words. I am most grateful to the hon. Member for Penistone and Stocksbridge (Angela Smith) for her comments. I assure her that if a new and better procedure is developed we will of course put it before the House. Alternatively, if there are major difficulties with what we propose, we will wish to look at it again. In the meantime, I hope that the House will agree to the motion.

Question put and agreed to.